The Garden of Reflection at the Maryland Correctional Institute in Jessup, Maryland, includes a meditative garden space that was envisioned and created by the inmates. It is bordered by a mini-arboretum of saplings that is tended by the inmates. All aspects combine for a powerful metaphoric image: the saplings will be transplanted into the communities outside the prison, much as one day the inmates will leave as they take the next step in their ongoing process of reinvention and growth.

Landscape architects and inmates transformed a nondescript concrete passageway into an art-filled, waterfall-enhanced, multi-level green oasis, featuring a trellis, a bench, and plenty of plants and flowers. Collaboration amongst a diverse group of inmates and volunteer professionals has added deeper meaning to the creative process and ultimate outcome of the space. Several prison vocational groups work together to enrich and document the garden project. Inmates working on their Master Gardener certification grow and tend the plantings. Inmates in the Prison’s Art Program created the poignant and compelling public artwork and poetry that frame the space. Inmates involved in a pilot video production program developed their technical skills while documenting the project.

Dedicated in 2011, the garden reflects and embodies the hopes and needs of the inmates who will use it. The space provides a much-needed calming effect in what is often an incredibly tense environment.